Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review: The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer

I have read a couple of Meg Wolitzer's books before and have always enjoyed them.  They are usually packed with social commentary, particularly as it relates to the place of women and mothers in society.  I hesitate to use the word "feminist" but there is definitely a focus in Wolitzer's work on modern women's roles in an out of the home.

In this latest novel, we are introduced to an ordinary couple who teach in an ordinary school in an ordinary town.  After many years of marriage, they are still in love, kissing in the halls between classes at the high school where they both teach.  Life at Eleanor Roosevelt High School (Elroy for short) is Americana-classic.  There is the married couple who always win teachers of the year; the socially-dysfunctional math teacher; the exotic Indian guidance counselor; and a host of average teachers and average kids going about their average lives.

When a strange new drama teacher arrives the local ladies are intrigued by her non-traditional marriage and her bold choices.  Suddenly, one by one the woman fall under a strange spell that makes them "turn away from their husbands."  I like the concept but this part did seem a little contrived, the whole "spell" thing.  What made this book so interesting is the way the entire dynamic of the couples, the school, and the town changed just based on a lack of, well, s. e. x.  No one can quite put their finger on the change but it is tangible and confusing to everyone.  Suddenly teachers are giving lower grades, couples are fighting, and people all over town are feeling angry and depressed.  The spell seems to be affecting everyone, young and old, except for the new drama teacher.  As the "sex strike" continues, each couple must figure out how to break the cycle of monotony and regain the romance in their lives.  This book was an interesting read and a good reminder of the importance of keeping life interesting, in all aspects.  

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